Analyzing schools for an advanced child

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ThankYouJack
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Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by ThankYouJack » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:07 am

I know schools are often discussed on here and online ratings are referenced, but I'm looking to do a deeper dive. I'm going to ask around, friends, teachers, talk to principles / faculty / take tours (is that common for public schools). My wife and I both went to public schools, but my state isn't known for good school or good teacher pay and my kids may get bored at our local elementary. They do have an advanced program where kids are split up for 2 hours a day. My oldest is advanced (reading at 3, fantastic memory, desire to learn), but too early to tell with my youngest :D

The next town over has some of the best schools in the state. But housing is close to double along with tax rates. And one of our friends who was a teacher at the high school, thought the school was overrated. He said there was high turnover with the principles and conflicts between the older teachers and younger teachers.

Another friend teaches at a catholic school. She said she wouldn't send her own kids there because it's too homogeneous (which I would agree with) and politely hinted that some of the teachers weren't good.

We have heard good things about charter schools, which are free in our area but I believe based on lottery.

I don't think we'd ever want to do private unless we thought it was a fantastic fit and didn't cost an arm and leg.

Not really considering homeschooling.

Anyway, we love where we live, but want to figure out the best school system for our kids. If you've been in a similar situation, what did you do and how did you compare?

livesoft
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by livesoft » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:13 am

We had it easy since all the schools around us are outstanding. We compared where graduates of the high schools went to college. Then picked the cheapest option where all the kids went to great colleges. Our kids went to different public high schools that compete for the same students.

At our stage of the game, what the parents did when the kids were not in school was just as important as what school they went to.

Also check this out: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... t-you-rich
So it isn't all about academics.
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KlangFool
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by KlangFool » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:27 am

OP,

IMHO, school is never good enough for our children. It could not. If we really want to develop the full potential of our children, the parents have to do a lot more beyond the formal system in educating our children.

KlangFool

livesoft
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by livesoft » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:30 am

I'll add that one can look at before-school and after-school programs. In our area band, choir, music, foreign language instruction, and some sports happen before the official school day starts. Other activities such as sports, band, ROTC, art, drama and numerous clubs happen after the official school day ends. Most important for us was that kids could walk or bike to schools. That way, we didn't have to deal with transportation and they were not on long bus rides.
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psteinx
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by psteinx » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:39 am

Some thoughts:

* It's surprisingly hard to find solid research about this topic. i.e. What really matters? Do private schools (religious or not), produce better results? How much do low student to teacher ratios matter? Etc. The last time I looked (a few years ago), the bulk of "official" research from education researchers seems focused on improving the lot of low income kids and the like. For a parent with high achieving kids from, say, an upper middle class or higher household with some excess resources to potentially spend, I was unable to find much useful guidance from scholarly research.

* In turn, there are less rigorous resources and recommendations, that are anecdotal or somewhat seat of the pants. A very common method is to look at scoring on standardized tests. The assumption is that if the kids at school A test better than those at school B, then A is a better school. But this ignores or minimizes the inputs (i.e. the kids at school A may come from wealthier, better educated families). I think it's not a terrible approach to consider test scores, but they should be taken with a grain of salt.

* Especially at the elementary school level, a lot comes down to individual teachers. A student with a good teacher at a mediocre (overall) school will likely have a better year than a student with a bad teacher at a good school. The best you can do is tilt the odds in your favor by finding a school where the average teacher is better, but there will likely be outliers.

Beth*
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Beth* » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:51 am

In my opinion, a lot of it comes down to the learning style of your individual child. One of my children had a wonderful experience at our local elementary school and it was a disaster for our other child. The child who did well there was able to learn in an unstructured, flexible environment where the students sat at tables and worked on projects with each other. The child for whom it was a disaster needed a much more structured environment where the students each worked quietly at their own desks. We live in a large distract and fortunately we were able to transfer that child to a different school when it became obvious that our local school wasn't working out. Both my children were "gifted" students but that label told us nothing about which school would be the best fit for elementary school.

With regard to high schools, I look at where the top students are going to college. If the top students in the school are getting into the flagship state university and top-ranked private schools, I don't worry about where the average student is going or what the average test score is. I figure that the school offers what an advanced student needs to do well. I've seen high schools with much higher average test scores than my local high school where no students ever go to Ivy League universities. My local high school, which has a very diverse population and therefore not particularly impressive test scores, sends a couple of students to Ivy League universities each year and sends a large number of students to the flagship state university. My children did well there.

stoptothink
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by stoptothink » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:52 am

KlangFool wrote:OP,

IMHO, school is never good enough for our children. It could not. If we really want to develop the full potential of our children, the parents have to do a lot more beyond the formal system in educating our children.

KlangFool


This. There is no real definitive way to rank how well a school will be for a specific child. I really don't understand people stretching financially to move just because the schools in a new neighborhood may have higher ranking schools - other than the fact that homes in neighborhood's with better ranking schools tend to have higher appreciation potential. Do your research and find out what the higher ranking actually means, and talk to parents (a lot of them). By far the most important factor in the success or failure of your child's education is what is done in the home.

fishmonger
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by fishmonger » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:07 pm

stoptothink wrote:
KlangFool wrote:OP,

IMHO, school is never good enough for our children. It could not. If we really want to develop the full potential of our children, the parents have to do a lot more beyond the formal system in educating our children.

KlangFool


This. There is no real definitive way to rank how well a school will be for a specific child. I really don't understand people stretching financially to move just because the schools in a new neighborhood may have higher ranking schools - other than the fact that homes in neighborhood's with better ranking schools tend to have higher appreciation potential. Do your research and find out what the higher ranking actually means, and talk to parents (a lot of them). By far the most important factor in the success or failure of your child's education is what is done in the home.


Agreed. Paying double for a home for the potential that you are going to a better school district is INSANE to me. No parent wants their kid to be in a subpar school, but I do think there are life lessons to be learned for going to a school with more diversity of backgrounds, income levels, just general life experience. No matter what, your kid is only in school 40 hours/week, tops. What they do for enrichment outside of school time, and the learning they do at home far outweighs what happens in school IMO.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by ThankYouJack » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:19 pm

Some good food for thought.

My main goal would be for my daughter to be somewhat challenged in school and inspired by teachers. The local public schools are likely to keep getting better (lots of money / big home developments in my area) may be fine, but we'll explore others just to compare.

The high school I went to gets 10 out of 10 for an online score which always surprises me. The state and school district are known for great schools, but I cruised through getting good grades. A couple teachers were outstanding and inspiring, but it seemed more of a job for the majority (granted it is a very tough job). When I got into a top tier private university studying engineering I was shocked at how challenging it was, how many AP credits students had coming in, how much students studied and was stressed about failing classes.

But maybe that's the better route to take. I figure kids have enough stress these days anyway, it's wouldn't be the end of the world if my daughter is able to coast through K-12 with good grades.

fishmonger
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by fishmonger » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:33 pm

Also, even in a good public school, you are going to have teachers all across the spectrum from exceptional to terrible. It's the nature of the profession in this country.

If you know who the exceptional teachers are, or who would be best for your child, be a PITA with the administration and demand your kid is in their class. This was difficult for us to do (because it's not my nature), but it has made a world of difference for our kids. Spending a whole year with a bad teacher has consequences. Most administrators, at least in my district, will push it through because it's not worth their energy to fight it

KlangFool
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by KlangFool » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:40 pm

fishmonger wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
KlangFool wrote:OP,

IMHO, school is never good enough for our children. It could not. If we really want to develop the full potential of our children, the parents have to do a lot more beyond the formal system in educating our children.

KlangFool


This. There is no real definitive way to rank how well a school will be for a specific child. I really don't understand people stretching financially to move just because the schools in a new neighborhood may have higher ranking schools - other than the fact that homes in neighborhood's with better ranking schools tend to have higher appreciation potential. Do your research and find out what the higher ranking actually means, and talk to parents (a lot of them). By far the most important factor in the success or failure of your child's education is what is done in the home.


Agreed. Paying double for a home for the potential that you are going to a better school district is INSANE to me. No parent wants their kid to be in a subpar school, but I do think there are life lessons to be learned for going to a school with more diversity of backgrounds, income levels, just general life experience. No matter what, your kid is only in school 40 hours/week, tops. What they do for enrichment outside of school time, and the learning they do at home far outweighs what happens in school IMO.


fishmonger,

+1

How about the rest of the stuff like personal finance? How to deal with people and so on? School plays a very insignificant amount of time on that. Aka, the rest of the stuff that we called how to live your life. Parents have to be ready to devote a significant amount of their time to educate their children on that.

The school is not a substitute for parenting.

KlangFool

remomnyc
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by remomnyc » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:49 pm

You can get a great education at a crappy school and a crappy one at a great school, it all depends on the teacher. If your child is advanced, you may even get more attention at a crappy school because the teacher may be enthusiastic to have an inquisitive, diligent mind to mold. You can supplement with after school. There are helpful resources online, such as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Only spend 2x more on a house because you can afford it and/or the alternative is a school that is not safe for your child. If the school is not safe and you can't afford to buy in your preferred neighborhood, could you rent?

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by itstoomuch » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:54 pm

I discovered many years after DS finished public school that our local District had a policy of Not advancing students until the second grade or above. Our son was set aside in the 1st grade classroom for advance/independent work. I guess he tolerated it but by Thanksgiving of second grade, he rebelled and stated that he no longer wanted to go to school. We thought he was happy and having fun? However, he wanted to be mainstreamed with his classmates but his class was behind him. The admins at his school apparently was prepared for this day ( we weren't and had no idea), and suggested that he could be jumped 2 grades; We opted for 1 grade and mixed class of 3rd & 4th graders for which he did for 2 years. We guess because the teacher had better skills. He still graduated 1st in his class of 450, NMF. He was socially fine, OK popular. Big district with 5 high schools of 1600 students each.

Never occurred to us to move just for a "better" school.

I had dated in HS, a girl who jumped 2 grades, Skipped 3 & 4. She was exceptional and OK popular. NMS.

Just anecdotal information.
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letsgobobby
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:15 pm

Schools were the most important factor in choosing our new home. We are very happy with the result: public school Chinese immersion in elementary; middle school immersion with a complementary challenge/GT program; and a choice of two high schools, one with an outstanding AP and IB program and the other with excellent academics including a strong AP program and track record of sending kids to flagship state U and elite universities.

It helps to have really lived in the community for a while so you can get a sense of how schools really function. I don't think there is any single objective analysis which really tells you if a school is a good fit for your children.

psteinx
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by psteinx » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:36 pm

While I expressed my doubts above about determining, with precision, the best school choice, I'm kinda surprised to see some folks here downplaying the importance of K-12 schooling in general.

This is *13* years of your kids' life! Out of ~18 years they'll live at home, and ~22 years where you'll have sort of primary responsibility for them. And within those 13 years, the time spent in school is a very large chunk of their waking hours. I doubt many parents spend 6-7 hours, per day, interacting with their 5-18 year old kids with the intensity that they'll be interacted with at school.

Of course there are financial constraints on what parents can do, and, as I cautioned above, it's hard to figure out the best course of action with regard to schooling. But to trivialize it or to strongly question those who would stretch themselves financially in hopes of better schooling seems to me rather an overreaction in the opposite direction...

Radjob4me
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Radjob4me » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:54 pm

ThankYouJack wrote: I figure kids have enough stress these days anyway, it's wouldn't be the end of the world if my daughter is able to coast through K-12 with good grades.


I am on board with this sentiment to a degree. My wife and I (I am a physician) chose a nice area with decent public schools, but not he best in our state by any means. My 3 teens are encouraged to study what they want and we supplement with outside activities as needed. If they wanted to try an AP class, then great. If not, no worries. My oldest son is smart but does better with a slower pace, so no AP for him and he is doing great. My other two can plow through almost anything, so they take more challenging classes as needed. But they are also allowed to play video games and watch TV and do non-academic teen goofing off. They will do fine and my wife and I have made a conscious effort to be relatively hands off the minutiae of the day to day school-work. The grades belong to them, not us. That science project is theirs, not ours.

I can say from three kids worth of experience, the things people tell you about schools and teachers often have zero bearing on what actually happens with your own kids. For instance, there is an 8th grade English teacher in our school with the "best" reputation. Our son oldest son loved her, but our daughter despised the same class - it was rigorous, but she is creative and artsy and that was not encouraged. We have friends that constantly try to change teacher assignments based on other parents thoughts and opinions, and inevitably their kids are not happy halfway through the year...

I guess I would say that educational experiences are determined by so many factors - even the best private school your kids can end up with a bunch of jerks as classmates and it could be miserable. You could make that move to the expensive town and you could be unpleasantly surprised by a huge property tax hike that makes you resent the school system and you pass that on to your child.

Do you best effort at research using all the factors at hand and make a decision. If you are happy in your town and with your neighbors, then give it a shot. You child is only 3. And on that note...

Please, please be careful about assuming that your child will stay "advanced" or "gifted" as they progress and that she will "coast" - that is a hugely strong statement to make at age 3. I was personally a jacka** in school util 8th grade and ended up in a great college and medical school. Not saying don't be a champion for your child, but thinking like that can lead down a rocky path...

We truly have friends that have moved their poor son to 6 different schools in 6 years trying to find "the best" for their "gifted" son, who has consistently had scores below that of many other kids. But the parents are convinced that he "just doesn't test well" and they just need to find the right spot... He complains about it to our kids every time we see them and he wishes he was just back in school with his friends in town.

Isabelle77
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Isabelle77 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:20 pm

A couple thoughts. When our daughter (who is now 13) was three she taught herself to read. All the way until 2nd or 3rd grade we thought she would be our "smart" kid, she was way ahead. By 3rd grade everyone else had caught up, it became clear that she has a learning problem in math, and while she still does well in everything except math, she works her tail off for her good grades. Meanwhile our son couldn't even sit still for a moment at three and we were told he wasn't "ready for preschool." He's 10 now and his IQ falls into the highly gifted range, he's a straight A student and has skipped a grade in math.

So all of that aside, let's assume your child or children will be advanced. I think there are different kinds of advanced. For example, if your child is the typical A student that is well-behaved, social, and high achieving, then I think a good public school setting is perfect for them. There are more opportunities at most good public schools for leadership, clubs, etc. than there are at most private schools. Unless you're in a position to pay for a really high end private school which can be wonderful but financially crippling.

My "highly gifted" child would not thrive in our good public schools. He is socially awkward, introverted, still pretty hyper, and quirky. We have him in a very small private school where he has 10 children in his class, even smaller math classes, and the kind of one on one attention that he needs. At a public school I think he would be lost and possibly ostracized.

My point is simply that I think the decision to decide on private or public schools has less to do with the academic than it does with the personality and needs of your child(ren) and the schools available to you.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by itstoomuch » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:30 pm

It's all a social experiment.
Just like retirement planning.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by ThankYouJack » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:18 pm

psteinx wrote:While I expressed my doubts above about determining, with precision, the best school choice, I'm kinda surprised to see some folks here downplaying the importance of K-12 schooling in general.



Me too. It seems so many threads on here lean the other way.

Radjob4me wrote:
The grades belong to them, not us. That science project is theirs, not ours.


I commend you for that. One of my friends teaches an accelerated program at a middle school and loves it other than dealing with the parents. She said the biggest stressor for her is dealing with parents who are upset because their child got lower than an A. They often make a huge fuss and take it to the highest level possible. She thinks:

1. Your child got a B because he didn't do all the work
2. It's middle school. "Harvard" is not care about a B in middle school


Radjob4me wrote:
Please, please be careful about assuming that your child will stay "advanced" or "gifted" as they progress and that she will "coast" - that is a hugely strong statement to make at age 3. I was personally a jacka** in school util 8th grade and ended up in a great college and medical school. Not saying don't be a champion for your child, but thinking like that can lead down a rocky path...


I didn't want to come across as bragging and I don't think my kids are better than others. I considered not posting that info but it's the main reason why I want to assess different elementary schools. My daughters summer nanny (a 1st grade teacher) is the one who first recommended looking into different schools saying she picks up on concepts some of her students have trouble with. I didn't think much of it other than, that's neat, but now seeing her pick up reading I could see her getting bored in kindergarten. I was just thinking about my own experience coasting through better schools and I know I wasn't as advanced as she is at 3. But anything can happen long term and I don't take things for granted.

retired recently
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by retired recently » Fri Dec 23, 2016 5:25 pm

I think looking at the standardized test scores reveals little as the standardized tests are too easy and by doing this you have no idea to what extent the school will challenge the advanced kids. We made this mistake and since our son was advanced he really did very little in school. I also think that middle school and high school are important if you have an advanced child but as another poster indicated it really depends on the kid and every kid is different - what works for one is not guaranteed to work for all despite what many seem to state. Some kids are self-motivated and will do well in any situation. My son learns better when he sees other kids that are at his level or above so we have gotten him involved in math circles and math competitions and are looking at private schools for high school.

We live in an affluent area and many of the kids play one or two sports on a club team and the rest of the time is spent playing a lot of video games and most of the kids make A's and B's. Very few of them are really advanced yet many are quite capable.

I do not share your view (but I certainly could be wrong) that it is ok to coast from K-12 as I think by 12 the difference between the ones who coasted and the ones who developed a work ethic will be very large. To me it seems the ability to supplement learning through the internet has changed education tremendously and I believe it will continue to increase the number of kids competing for a job in the future. In the past, many of us were really just competing for jobs with kids in our local area but more and more the internet allows jobs to be done remotely. Given the US performance in the PISA, it seems our kids might not be ready.

Anecdotal for sure but a very high-achieving kid from the local high school matriculated to an Ivy last year but only made it one year as the other kids were just too far ahead of him...

Good luck!!

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by *3!4!/5! » Fri Dec 23, 2016 5:50 pm

In our district, it pays to study a school's track record of sending students to some of the nicer prisons.

It's also a good idea to examine a homicide map for the surrounding neighborhoods.

On the bright side, everyone gets free lunch.

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Nosferatu
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Nosferatu » Fri Dec 23, 2016 6:33 pm

*3!4!/5! wrote:In our district, it pays to study a school's track record of sending students to some of the nicer prisons.

It's also a good idea to examine a homicide map for the surrounding neighborhoods.

On the bright side, everyone gets free lunch.


:sharebeer

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:13 pm

I can't say what will work for the OP's child, but what has worked in our family is to go to a school supply store (plenty to be found online these days too) and get age-appropriate books in all sorts of areas. When I was a child, I had everything from poetry and fiction books to science and math workbooks. There were also age-appropriate learning tools and toys, ranging from physical (Lincoln Logs, Lego, etc.) to electronic (I had this math owl as a child and you could not pry that thing from my hands some days).

Basically, see the school as a foundation for learning that is expanded upon at home. And begin the home learning before the school learning, so the child sees learning as a normal part of every day. So for the OP's child, get preschool/kindergarten appropriate learning tools and books right now, but keep buying tools and books every year until the child is old enough to start expressing preferences in one area or another. The younger child can inherit the basic set of books and tools from the older child, but you can customize the interests to the younger child as he/she expresses them.

MathWizard
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by MathWizard » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:38 pm

Maybe I was crazy, but part of my decision on where to work and live was based on the schools. It has the reputation as the best public school systems in on of the top rated states
on the basis of average college entrance exams.

The system is not perfect, but is far superior to the one I went to. We also worked with the kids on logic, music, and math. (Not rote practice, but understanding the fundamental principles. We also encouraged friendships with kids whose parents were also pro-education.

I have been astounded by those who picked schools based on the likelihood of their kids playing the parents favorite sport.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by cherijoh » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:28 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:The high school I went to gets 10 out of 10 for an online score which always surprises me. The state and school district are known for great schools, but I cruised through getting good grades. A couple teachers were outstanding and inspiring, but it seemed more of a job for the majority (granted it is a very tough job). When I got into a top tier private university studying engineering I was shocked at how challenging it was, how many AP credits students had coming in, how much students studied and was stressed about failing classes.

But maybe that's the better route to take. I figure kids have enough stress these days anyway, it's wouldn't be the end of the world if my daughter is able to coast through K-12 with good grades.


Sorry, but it doesn't sound like your school failed you - the drive to excel needs to come from within you or at least needs to be instilled by your parents. You certainly can't blame the fact that you "cruised through high school" on the school unless it was substandard (which your post doesn't suggest). I think one reason why private schools often have impressive records is because of self-selection. Parents who are willing to pay for private schools are usually very committed to ensuring that their kids get a quality education and they aren't willing to allow their kids to be slackers. Public schools run the gamut - families who couldn't care less all the way to families very similar to those with kids in private school. But private school enrollment certainly doesn't ensure high achievement in and of itself.

Were AP classes offered at your school? If so, why weren't you enrolled? I grew up in the DC suburbs in a majority minority county. The next county over was far more affluent with "much better" schools. But my public high school offered at least a dozen AP classes (and this was 40 years ago!). There was a core group of high-achieving students with whom I shared most classes. Quite a few of us had 4 or more AP classes under our belts at graduation and there were lots of acceptances to Ivy league schools and flagship state universities. This was an excellent preparation for college, but I'm sure my high school also graduated a lot of students who were ill-prepared for college after "coasting" their way through HS.

In my opinion the best way to motivate your kids is to help them find their passion - if your kid excels in math or science, get them enrolled in an after-school or summer program involving computer programming or robotics. Or have your child participate in the science fair and do a project that really piques their interest. If they like music or the arts get them involved in band, photography/videography, or the drama club. If a class offered at school isn't challenging enough, see if they can enroll in a college program and get credit for it - there are lots of great classes available online. If there is a prestigious university in your area, check into summer programs geared towards high-achieving HS students - several of my HS classmates attended such a program at Johns Hopkins.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by livesoft » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:31 pm

... and if sports is their passion, then help them with that, too. ;)
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Mudpuppy » Mon Dec 26, 2016 5:11 pm

Just as a little more evidence that school ratings aren't everything, I looked up the current ratings for my schools: 7/10 for elementary, 1/10 for middle school, and 6/10 for high school. The middle school was that bad when I went there (daily fights in the school yard, regular lock-downs due to gang activity in the neighborhood, and so on). And yet I graduated magna cum laude with two B.S. degrees from a regional state university and went on to get a M.S. and Ph.D. from a flagship state university.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Miakis » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:29 pm

I used to think it didn't really matter, but then I volunteered to teach a brief financial program to Grade 5 students. It was a set program, so every class theoretically got the same content.

Except that they didn't.

The first class that I taught was in one of the "worst" public schools in the city. And I put that in quotation marks because we're not talking about an area with high crime or danger - just poorer, with lower grade scores, and a higher proportion of immigrants. The students who participated the most or tried to answer questions were made fun of by their peers. Some students were disruptive. The teachers seemed disinterested and when they were paying attention, they only put their effort into controlling the out of control students. We had to abandon about 40% of the content because the students took too much time to complete each section and because they lacked an understanding of the basic concepts. Also, at one point we had to skip an entire math section because the kids didn't have access to calculators.

The next time, I was in one of the "top" public school in the city. Again, quotations, because this city isn't super rich or elite. A lot of people prefer to put kids in private school because they don't think the public school system is any good. The students in this school were engaged, easily handled the material and had fun with it. They did much better on the group work, they had access to calculators, they had a much better grasp of the concepts and vocabulary. These students were quick enough that they had time to work on some bonus "challenge" material, and they had plenty of time to engage in extra discussion of pertinent real world events/examples. The teachers at this school were more tuned in.

Obviously, these seem like two extreme examples... but in a way, they aren't. The city overall is lower-income, and the state is known for constantly trying to short school funding. On a national or even state level, this city's school system is neither bottom rated nor top rated. And yet there was a stark difference in what an advanced student would be able to learn. And how would you know? None of the students at the "bad" school knew that we were quietly skipping content. They couldn't report back to their parents that students across town had received twice as much education.

retired recently
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by retired recently » Mon Dec 26, 2016 7:38 pm

Miakis wrote:The first class that I taught was in one of the "worst" public schools in the city. And I put that in quotation marks because we're not talking about an area with high crime or danger - just poorer, with lower grade scores, and a higher proportion of immigrants.


Were the immigrants from South America / Central America or from Asian countries? From what we see here there is a very large difference. The Asian immigrants are way above every other race by far in terms of academic performance.

The state we are in also chronically underfunds the schools or is reported to do so but in our area many schools have policies to ensure most classrooms have smartboards and every kid has a computer to take home. I do not think smartboards increase learning very much, especially in younger grades, and while I am all for ensuring all kids know how to access the internet and do online research etc, most of the kids in the district have computers anyway. Tremendous amounts could have been saved to only provide computers to kids who need them.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by mnaspbh » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:01 pm

School systems can change very quickly. One state or regional financial crisis or failed property tax or bond initiative and funding can disappear overnight. Planning out 5 or 10 years based on today's rankings is a bit like deciding to take a margin loan to buy into today's hottest hedge fund--you're really banking on past performance guaranteeing future results.

Money that might be spent on private schools or on (over) stretching to afford a house in a today-good school district can be used to buy a heck of a lot of tutoring or enrichment activities better tailored to a child's interests and needs.

I went to a poor public school system, and a fair high school. I had no problems excelling, and later getting into one of the top 10 doctoral programs in my area of study. It was in large part because my parents valued education and always encouraged learning, even though they were of limited means especially by the standards of this board.

Parental involvement is the single biggest factor in a child's success.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by jfn111 » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:11 pm

*3!4!/5! wrote:In our district, it pays to study a school's track record of sending students to some of the nicer prisons.

It's also a good idea to examine a homicide map for the surrounding neighborhoods.

On the bright side, everyone gets free lunch.

That's my High School. :shock:
They finally tore it down.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by carguyny » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:13 pm

What are your objectives? I firmly believe in a non-traditional education by US standards. My son just turned 3 (and is very advanced for his age like your child) and will be going to Forest Preschool, then we will probably move to send him somewhere like the Journeys School at Teton Science School, one of the Altschools (check Altschools.com), High Tech High in San Diego etc. To me innovation and creative thinking are the path to success so I want a school that fosters it vs rote learning to do well in standardized tests.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Miakis » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:18 pm

retired recently wrote:
Miakis wrote:The first class that I taught was in one of the "worst" public schools in the city. And I put that in quotation marks because we're not talking about an area with high crime or danger - just poorer, with lower grade scores, and a higher proportion of immigrants.


Were the immigrants from South America / Central America or from Asian countries? From what we see here there is a very large difference. The Asian immigrants are way above every other race by far in terms of academic performance.


Spanish-speaking immigrants.

At one point, we were going around and asking each student their name, and some kind of ice breaker question. When we got to one girl, she was unresponsive, then when repeated it, she started crying. One of the other students told us that she didn't speak English and her school-provided interpreter had left to smoke. When the interpreter came back, she didn't help the student at all. At no point did the teacher intervene to provide this information to us.

I went to top-rated public schools. My middle school had an ESL program for mostly Somalian kids. I could barely even wrap my head around how this little girl (or any of these kids) was treated by the school system. I had no idea how left behind/abandoned many kids are in lower-quality schools and how the whole cohort is basically held to a lower standard.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by cherijoh » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:34 am

MathWizard wrote:Maybe I was crazy, but part of my decision on where to work and live was based on the schools. It has the reputation as the best public school systems in on of the top rated states
on the basis of average college entrance exams.

The system is not perfect, but is far superior to the one I went to. We also worked with the kids on logic, music, and math. (Not rote practice, but understanding the fundamental principles. We also encouraged friendships with kids whose parents were also pro-education.

I have been astounded by those who picked schools based on the likelihood of their kids playing the parents favorite sport.


There is certainly nothing wrong with using your criteria - and it is far superior IMO to the sports-based one. :oops: But some people pay a huge premium in home price to get into a "better" school within the same school system. Now that seems ill-advised to me - teachers get transferred or retire and school assignment can change between when you buy the house and when your children will be in middle school/high school. IMO micro-managing is a lot less likely to pay off than starting at the macro level picking a state and district that values education.

Isabelle77 wrote:I think there are different kinds of advanced. For example, if your child is the typical A student that is well-behaved, social, and high achieving, then I think a good public school setting is perfect for them. There are more opportunities at most good public schools for leadership, clubs, etc. than there are at most private schools. Unless you're in a position to pay for a really high end private school which can be wonderful but financially crippling.

My "highly gifted" child would not thrive in our good public schools. He is socially awkward, introverted, still pretty hyper, and quirky. We have him in a very small private school where he has 10 children in his class, even smaller math classes, and the kind of one on one attention that he needs. At a public school I think he would be lost and possibly ostracized.

My point is simply that I think the decision to decide on private or public schools has less to do with the academic than it does with the personality and needs of your child(ren) and the schools available to you.


Very good points. Kids can be wired to learn differently, but the public schools don't always have the resources to adjust for these alternative learning styles. Especially as many schools are pressed to increase their student to teacher ratios.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Moolala » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:41 pm

It seems like you are putting good thought into this. Fortunately, it also sounds like you have lots of time ahead of you to find the right school. No school is perfect, and when you make a final decision it might be worth considering two things in synch:
-How sustained are the good programs at the school you choose? Are they "iffy" such as was suggested at the Catholic school (which honestly reflects my experience with Catholic schools, too - often they do not have the funding to pay teachers well or diversify their staffs, so your child might not have as many options) OR ar they threatened by funding cuts, etc.? (Sometimes the case at charters and for arts/extracurricular programs at public schools).

Even if the public school in the "good" district has frequent leadership turnover, its core staff may still be the true color of the school. And most principlals do transition from job to job quite frequently. It's just a common truth. As for charters? Look VERY closely. There are charters on every point in the spectrum: amazing and atrocious.

-Secondly, think about the community values/ the culture of the school. Until recently this was not something I considered myself, instead taking the opinion that there is a place for every child. But when I started speaking with students and teachers from more diverse schools across the country (researcher here!), I realized how drastically the culture varied and how dramatically it can affect a child's experience.

Advanced programs are wonderful, but try not to be too cut throat. Diverse experiences your child is passionate about will be the true ticket to success.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by celia » Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:50 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:Another friend teaches at a catholic school. She said she wouldn't send her own kids there because it's too homogeneous (which I would agree with) and politely hinted that some of the teachers weren't good.

What is wrong with "homogeneous"? In our experience with Catholic schools, they teach and model the church's faith, do community service projects, each student comes to school speaking English and prepared to learn. They usually don't have to worry about students missing school since parents who pay tuition make sure the students show up and on time, in uniform (don't have to spend time arguing about what hair style or clothing is appropriate for school). Most parents follow up to make sure the homework is done (and to see what content is being taught that week) and come to the PTA meetings and back-to-school nights (standing room only for parents visiting the classrooms as more parents show up than there are desks). Several races/ethnicities and various parental occupations and neighborhoods are represented in most schools, as they usually draw students from a bigger area than public schools. The schools are usually smaller (only one or two classes for each grade) so the students have a sense of continuity as they move from grade to grade. These are all characteristics I wanted for my kids. What the schools usually lack are some of society's problems that schools shouldn't have to be concerned with: crime, hunger, homelessness, lack of transportation, language fluency.

Since most Catholic schools run on a tight budget, some of the teachers may not be the "best" if they are young and inexperienced. Usually time takes care of that as many work on advancing themselves outside of school hours.

We have heard good things about charter schools, which are free in our area but I believe based on lottery.

This is where it is up to you to find out about each school. Sometimes there is an "enrollment fair" where each school mans a table during the student recruitment process and touts their magnet program: math/science, arts, foreign language immersion, etc. Check your district website or call any school in the district to see if there is something like this for your area. (Recruiting starts in January in some areas). Start attending these events even if your oldest is only 3.

KlangFool wrote:IMHO, school is never good enough for our children. It could not. If we really want to develop the full potential of our children, the parents have to do a lot more beyond the formal system in educating our children.

KlangFool

110% AGREED

I believe that parents are the primary teachers for their kids. You take them places, read and interact with them, work on projects/games/watch educational TV together. The teachers at school are secondary and reinforce parts of what you've already exposed your kids to. I've heard parents say they will take their kids to visit a historical sight after they've learned about it in school. I say I'd rather have the kids visit the sight first so when they learn about it in school they have an experience to which they can attach the new information.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by JoinToday » Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:46 pm

celia wrote:
ThankYouJack wrote:Another friend teaches at a catholic school. She said she wouldn't send her own kids there because it's too homogeneous (which I would agree with) and politely hinted that some of the teachers weren't good.


What is wrong with "homogeneous"?


This is funny! I thought the same thing when I read it. The benefit of Catholic schools (in my opinion) is two fold: (1) parents are involved with and concerned about their kids education, and (2) dicipline: when little Billy or Jane is misbehaving at school, parents are more likely to help correct the problem. And if the kid is too disruptive, he gets kicked out. End of discipline problem.

In our experience with Catholic schools, they teach and model the church's faith, do community service projects, each student comes to school speaking English and prepared to learn. They usually don't have to worry about students missing school since parents who pay tuition make sure the students show up and on time, in uniform (don't have to spend time arguing about what hair style or clothing is appropriate for school). Most parents follow up to make sure the homework is done (and to see what content is being taught that week) and come to the PTA meetings and back-to-school nights (standing room only for parents visiting the classrooms as more parents show up than there are desks). Several races/ethnicities and various parental occupations and neighborhoods are represented in most schools, as they usually draw students from a bigger area than public schools. The schools are usually smaller (only one or two classes for each grade) so the students have a sense of continuity as they move from grade to grade. These are all characteristics I wanted for my kids. What the schools usually lack are some of society's problems that schools shouldn't have to be concerned with: crime, hunger, homelessness, lack of transportation, language fluency.

Since most Catholic schools run on a tight budget, some of the teachers may not be the "best" if they are young and inexperienced. Usually time takes care of that as many work on advancing themselves outside of school hours.

....

I believe that parents are the primary teachers for their kids. You take them places, read and interact with them, work on projects/games/watch educational TV together. The teachers at school are secondary and reinforce parts of what you've already exposed your kids to. I've heard parents say they will take their kids to visit a historical sight after they've learned about it in school. I say I'd rather have the kids visit the sight first so when they learn about it in school they have an experience to which they can attach the new information.


Well stated. Your kids (if you have any) are fortunate.
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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by minimalistmarc » Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:29 pm

Amusing reading all the parental angst regarding their child's education.

I'm sure all our precious little unicorns will be just fine no matter what school they go to.

Please stop sending your kids to school for high achieving tuition during the summer holidays. That just can't be right can it?

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by charleshugh » Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:53 pm

Two of my children, who graduated from average grade/high schools, went on to obtain a PhD and are now professors at two different universities.

I think good/excellent students will thrive in almost any academic environment. In my view, it is difficult to accurately evaluate/compare educational institutions. I would place much more emphasis on the diligence of the student than the "quality" of the school. I would recommend that you focus on these things that are in your control than those things that are not.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by celia » Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:12 pm

minimalistmarc wrote:Please stop sending your kids to school for high achieving tuition during the summer holidays. That just can't be right can it?

What does this mean?

If parents both work through the summer (eg, not for a school), they still need to find something positive for the kids to do while they work. With our kids, they either took "classes" or sports at park and rec, at a science camp, at CampFire/scouts, or at the community college (those near us have classes even for elementary kids but high school kids can take regular college classes). We always took our vacations during the summer and almost always left town. Our kids saw the world before they left for college.

No, this was not super expensive except for airfare. We know people in other countries and states. We also hosted foreign high school students during the summer. That does not cost you much, but is a little harder to supervise while you work. The program we were with had M-F activities for the foreign students at our local school. Our kids walked over to pick them up and went back home where they did kid-appropriate things.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by *3!4!/5! » Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:28 pm

minimalistmarc wrote:Amusing reading all the parental angst regarding their child's education.

I'm sure all our precious little unicorns will be just fine no matter what school they go to.

A lot of the kids in our school district end up in prison. :oops:

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by celia » Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:37 pm

JoinToday wrote:The benefit of Catholic schools (in my opinion) is two fold: (1) parents are involved with and concerned about their kids education, and (2) dicipline: when little Billy or Jane is misbehaving at school, parents are more likely to help correct the problem. And if the kid is too disruptive, he gets kicked out. End of discipline problem.

True, but the most important benefit is in reinforcing your religious belief. If you don't have the same values and similar belief system as the school, it can put your child(ren) in an awkward position of the parents saying and doing one thing but the school doing different.

Many church-based schools would rather you not place your child in this situation. How can the school support YOU when you both aren't in sync?

DH and I both taught in public and Catholic schools when we first married (pre-kids) and it was easy to see the difference from the inside. Somehow when kids came along we were no longer teachers. Maybe we did that in the wrong order??? :?:

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:43 pm

miakis wrote:At one point, we were going around and asking each student their name, and some kind of ice breaker question. When we got to one girl, she was unresponsive, then when repeated it, she started crying. One of the other students told us that she didn't speak English and her school-provided interpreter had left to smoke. When the interpreter came back, she didn't help the student at all. At no point did the teacher intervene to provide this information to us.

Still, it's an improvement over my experience as an 8-year old who didn't speak English. They put me in kindergarten until I learned the language, gave me crayons in place of the fountain pen I was accustomed to, and seemed to think that I was hard of hearing (they shouted and spoke slowly) rather than not speaking English. I say, literally and accurately, that I learned English with a vengeance.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Dec 30, 2016 6:33 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
miakis wrote:At one point, we were going around and asking each student their name, and some kind of ice breaker question. When we got to one girl, she was unresponsive, then when repeated it, she started crying. One of the other students told us that she didn't speak English and her school-provided interpreter had left to smoke. When the interpreter came back, she didn't help the student at all. At no point did the teacher intervene to provide this information to us.

Still, it's an improvement over my experience as an 8-year old who didn't speak English. They put me in kindergarten until I learned the language, gave me crayons in place of the fountain pen I was accustomed to, and seemed to think that I was hard of hearing (they shouted and spoke slowly) rather than not speaking English. I say, literally and accurately, that I learned English with a vengeance.

maybe that is a better way?

I tutored throughout college at a predominantly Spanish speaking elementary school where many of the kids spent their first year in a 'bilingual' Spanish English class. From what I can tell it was entirely in Spanish. Very little English was taught, spoken, or expected. I'm not sure the kids were any more prepared for an integrated English class at the end of the year. Something to be said for the old model of throwing immigrants from 100 countries into the same school and making them learn to communicate in English.

As it relates to this thread, I would love to have my kids attend a very diverse school but would not sacrifice academic excellence to achieve it.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Rodc » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:03 pm

We have heard good things about charter schools, which are free in our area but I believe based on lottery.


The quality of charter schools is a lottery as well as quality is all over the map.

***************************

OP,

We have one of the best public schools in the country. Often send more kids to Harvard than an other public school in the country. MIT, Stanford, you name it.

Know the secret? The parents are often nuts. One who happens to work for me was upset at work the other day. His 6-year old was flunking out of the local Russian math school - just could not stay focused. So he is trying a new "boutique" math school run by a Romanian. He was near distraught, how was she going to make it in this world?

Now to be fair the schools are pretty good. My son learned, via the Socratic method, how to discover and prove all the linear algebra and Cyclic Group theory behind the RSA encryption algorithm in the 7th grade. But that was honors math and a crazy Russian mathematician teacher. My other son was doing math you might find at any school.

Not all parents and not all kids are so driven. Many have paid literally millions to move here only to pull their kids out because it is too competitive. We like a number of parents work more to drive down stress and let our kids know that they really do not have to be published in a peer reviewed journal before the age of 18. Stress and a few suicides are real.

Be careful what you wish for. But also you can do a lot for your child's education if you want, both at home, at school and before/after school, just don't go nuts. :)

Also, many child prodigies top out a very normal levels of ability - they just get there faster. And if they have been built up to believe they are super special it is a real blow when you find out you are not. So be careful with that one too.

Ok, rant off. :)
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:13 pm

Rodc wrote:Also, many child prodigies top out a very normal levels of ability - they just get there faster. And if they have been built up to believe they are super special it is a real blow when you find out you are not. So be careful with that one too.
One of my takeaways from kids' Montessori: "it's about how far, not how quickly."
Big fan of Montessori, btw.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Rodc » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:25 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Rodc wrote:Also, many child prodigies top out a very normal levels of ability - they just get there faster. And if they have been built up to believe they are super special it is a real blow when you find out you are not. So be careful with that one too.
One of my takeaways from kids' Montessori: "it's about how far, not how quickly."
Big fan of Montessori, btw.



My sister was born with Down's Syndrome back in the early 1960s, when doctors told parents "Put you child into an institution, go home, tell everyone you miscarried." My parents said, "No, we love all our children," and took her home. Quite unusual at the time and the local public school refused to educate her. The Montessori school embraced her and she had a wonderful few years there.

So, yeah, did not use one for my kids, but I am a big fan too!
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by Punta Cana DR » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:29 pm

Education opens doors...then you have to deliver.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:39 pm

Rodc wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Rodc wrote:Also, many child prodigies top out a very normal levels of ability - they just get there faster. And if they have been built up to believe they are super special it is a real blow when you find out you are not. So be careful with that one too.
One of my takeaways from kids' Montessori: "it's about how far, not how quickly."
Big fan of Montessori, btw.



My sister was born with Down's Syndrome back in the early 1960s, when doctors told parents "Put you child into an institution, go home, tell everyone you miscarried." My parents said, "No, we love all our children," and took her home. Quite unusual at the time and the local public school refused to educate her. The Montessori school embraced her and she had a wonderful few years there.

So, yeah, did not use one for my kids, but I am a big fan too!

That brought a tear to my eye. Your parents were wonderful; good for them and for the Montessori school.

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Re: Analyzing schools for an advanced child

Post by health teacher » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:46 pm

I wouldn't analyze it much at all. If you were sending your kid to an inner city school with tons of behavior problems or a bilingual school or some other factor that caused the majority of a teachers time to be focused on something other than education, I'd look for other options.

So far, researchers have concluded learning is almost entirely intrinsic and since your child is advanced, the few extrinsic factors that have an impact ( attention prior to learning, superiority among peers, positive reinforcement, obtaining rewards) shouldn't be a problem. You want your child to have a thirst for knowledge and if you create stress where it isn't needed, your child will potenially resent you and the learning process.

Go to the school in which you reside. Most likely, the only reason the school system next to you is "excellent" is because they have more students like your child. Keep your eye on your child's progress and have high expectations, but if your child is going to be Doogie Howser, it won't be because you analyzed the school systems and made the perfect choice.
Last edited by health teacher on Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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